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Better provision made for deaf people

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Better provision made for deaf people

DUMFRIES and Galloway Council has upped its game on British Sign Language (BSL) provision.

Council officers have made several positive changes since John Denerley highlighted flaws in the local authority’s British Sign Language (BSL) plan earlier this year, calling for much more to be done to support and promote BSL in the region.

Mr Denerley, who was elected as a councillor for Dee and Glenkens at the elections last May, is a strong voice for the BSL community and is helping to raise standards across Dumfries and Galloway.

Three months on, council officers have reported “significant progress” within the region’s BSL plan, with all actions on target or completed already.

This includes the introduction of drop-in clinics for the deaf BSL community, led and facilitated by the social work sensory support team. The drop-in sessions run in Dumfries on a weekly basis, and on a monthly basis in Stranraer and Annan.

“The sessions cover a wide range of topics, including access to communication, cost of living, form filling, social care along with many other topics,” according to an update report, which will be presented at the council’s communities committee next Tuesday.

A series of awareness raising events were also held with staff during Sign Language Week in March, as well as Deaf Awareness Week in May.

Meanwhile, the council is also making use of technology to enhance its language translation and BSL interpreting services.

A new app will be introduced onto all council staff smart devices, including mobile phones and tablets. This allows access to language translation and BSL interpreting services within seconds at the click of a button – and provides both audio and video translation and interpreting services.

The council report states: “This new service will be promoted across all public facing buildings and will significantly enhance the

support we can provide across all council services.”

It continues: “This app will allow staff to access BSL interpreting services on their council smart devices within seconds and allow us to quickly communicate with anyone who is deaf or hard of hearing.

“At the moment, all appointments with anyone who uses BSL need to be pre-booked for when an interpreter is available. This app allows staff to have more unplanned, responsive conversations and ensure our council services are more accessible to the BSL community.”

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